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Metaullics plant plans for growth

WHEATFIELD -- A graphite products company here is planning a major expansion and seeks a tax break to help the project, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board was told Wednesday.

Metaullics Systems, operating since 1993 in the former Carborundum Co. plant on Cory Road, is working on a hush-hush new product for a major U.S. customer, operations manager Kevin Scott said in presenting the $5 million plan.

He said he couldn't identify either the product or the customer because of a confidentiality agreement, but it will require a 36,600-square-foot expansion of one of the five buildings on the company's 26-acre site.

The addition onto the northern end of Building 1 will house three new high-temperature graphite furnaces, Scott said. He estimated that the project can be completed by this fall and will immediately result in the addition of 11 jobs to a work force that now numbers 55.

Metaullics Systems has been steadily growing since two former Carborundum employees bought the plant 16 years ago. It had 20 employees at the time, Scott said, adding no one has ever been laid off since the 1993 purchase.

Metaullics' primary product now is small-diameter graphite tubes and rods.

"Every Minuteman missile in this country has our graphite in the exhaust nozzles of stage one. We're very proud of that, but we hope they're never used," Scott said.

In 2005, the company was acquired by Pyrotek Inc. of Spokane, Wash. Metaullics Systems had to compete within that international company to win the right to make the new product.

Scott said both Pyrotek and the mystery customer have operations around the world, including sites in Mexico, India, China and Russia.

"It's very difficult for us to compete with them, certainly on wages and taxes," Scott said.

The IDA will host a public hearing on the company's request for a 15-year property tax break at 4:30 p.m. March 18 in the IDA offices. A vote on the deal isn't expected until the board's April 8 meeting.

The New York Power Authority has allocated 1.2 megawatts of replacement power to the project, he added.

On another topic, the IDA board gave final approval to a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement for Niagara's Choice Federal Credit Union. It is constructing a new 3,000-square-foot branch at 3577 Niagara Falls Blvd., Wheatfield.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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